Eid ul Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast is one of the most awaited festivals for our Muslim brothers and sisters. As a ritual on this pious day, people visit mosques or gather in open spaces to take part in community prayers, do charity, organise a feast and visit each other's place to greet and celebrate. I remember, in my childhood how excited even the Kashmiri Pundit boys and girls in our common residential areas in the valley used to be. In fact, we also used to get Eidi (gift) consisting of a crisp Rupee note or a shining coin, a part of the celebration from our Muslim neighbours.
This year we have an enormous challenge as the COVID pandemic has exposed the human race to a life-threatening health risk and also has crippled the economy. Social distancing and religiously following the lockdown norms seem to be the only possible solutions to tackle this threat. Under these circumstances, any kind of celebration, including Eid with a large number of people (friends and family) will only expose us to health risks. One needs to remember that "Loving yourself is loving Allah" the well-known tradition. Keeping in mind the prevalent conditions several Islamic religious bodies have urged people not to go in gatherings. Many mosques in Muslim states have cancelled the traditional prayers and have opted for virtual prayers. We also need to move ahead with times and go on these lines. The example of Kumbh Mela and its repercussions on the spread of the second wave of COVID is just in front of our eyes. We need to learn lessons from every mistake made by us in the very recent past.
Meals on the day is a very important part of Eid, and traditionally is a feast. Preparations for the feast begin almost a day in advance and varieties of delicacies are cooked for family members and friends. On the evening of Eid, people visit each other's place and have parties. However, given the current circumstances, people should avoid social visits and instead organise virtual parties. They can connect through various online platforms.
Joyous atmosphere can be created at home by decorating the place with Eid themed decorations and making the place neat, with a spick and span look. A background light music of prayers and Na'ats can brings in cheer. Doing so also keeps one busy and gets the feeling of festivity and less of loneliness.
Wearing new and bright clothes is a part of all celebrations and Eid being no exception. In these exceptional circumstances when markets are closed and online portals are non-functional, one can always choose something nice from the existing clothes. Dressing up and using a perfume can get a festivity aroma around you.
In spite of observing the COVID appropriate norms there is always a possibility of some guests coming to greet. While greeting them, maintain a safe distancing and no hand shaking and hugging. Wearing a face mask and keeping the hand on left side of chest should be the way. There can be a tendency to forget the consequences of the pandemic, so be aware of that. A few minutes of carelessness can cost very dearly. The aerial spread of COVID also necessitates good ventilation of the homes besides sanitization.
Charity (Zakat) plays an important part of Ramadhan celebrations and needs to be accomplished as per the Quran. However, instead of going out to see and meet the economically weaker sections of the society the mode adopted should be on line donations through credible philanthropic organizations. There are scores of such bodies which can be found through the internet. One such organization known to the author is UMEED Foundation which has a widespread network in several states of India, including Maharashtra, Delhi, North Eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir.
You and your family's safety are of primary concern. Wish you all a joyous, safe and peaceful Eid ul Fitr, 2021
Prof Upendra Kaul is founder Director Gauri Kaul Foundation. A recipient of Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy Award.